Gamers tend to get a bad rap. And certainly it’s not unearned. I’m not going to pretend that “this is about ethics in gaming journalism.” Certainly, before you hire someone you should make sure that they’re pro-diversity and actually all the things I’m about to argue gamers are. But don’t get too bent out of shape if you find out a candidate spends her evenings with eleven other people running about a player versus player map pretending she’s an Argonian night-blade healer.
Basically, what I’m saying is, my habit is a list of pros rather than cons.
1. IT Proficient
In virtually any job today you, Mr. Bossman Sirdeesir, want at least some digital fluency. Perhaps all you need is someone who can operate Microsoft Excel without bringing down the power grid or perhaps you want someone who had one or two or fifty programming languages at their disposal.
Your likelihood of finding that tech savvy candidate rises among a pool of gamers and considerably drops as you exclude people who game. Gaming in any capacity outside of table top and card games, be it flash games, console games, solo RPGs or MMORPGs requires some degree of proficiency with tech. It may not require a lot, but the more serious your gamer, the more likely they will have mods, skins, and add-ons. In crazier cases you may be talking to a casual gamer who coded those add-ons. And if you are, hire that person because they have valuable skills.
In any business, whether you’re a Fortune 500 or a non-profit you want staff that can make good decisions quickly.
In gaming if a player hesitates, they die. Well, their avatar dies, but there’s such a significant psychological and emotional component to it that gamers will approach decision-making like their actual life depends on it. And once decided they will have their game face on and follow through.
You don’t want an employee who sits at their desk all day but still doesn’t have much to show for it. You might not be in love with the idea of employees taking a lot of breaks or not staying late, but imagine having to pay overtime for shoddy work. Gamers won’t do you like that.
Videogames tend to have a lot of timed challenges and, in general, timing is of the essence. There’s no chance to linger over the task, and particularly if you’re playing online or player vs. player or for ranking, you have to be very present and make no mistakes. Gamers also like to game. The moment they’ve finished a task they’re going to move on to the next one because at the end of the day they get to go home to their games.
Some gamers may handle work assignments like in-game quests and be super thorough while others will speed through and complete maybe not with the same artistic flair as the RPGer, but certainly with a decent result. You may see your new gaming employee getting up for a lot more breaks, but if you check their progress, you will be pleased.
Employees who can overcome hurdles after a setback however daunting are the sort that add value and verve to your company.
Gamers have trained for this. Before one can “get good,” one dies just so many times. It is awful and embarrassing and if it happens in any sort of group context it may also include public shaming and a spewing of expletives from precisely the sort of gamer you shouldn’t actually hire. Your gamer won’t be deterred by a set back. They’ll learn from it, but they won’t give up. Because, every gamer knows that the more daunting the task the more legendary the reward.
But, let’s pause a moment and acknowledge that there is that sort of gamer you don’t want in your company and what that means for your hiring practices. Women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and BIPOC have been gamers since Pong. In fact gaming would not exist if not for women and specifically women of color. We would not have the code for it. Unfortunately, there is an idea among some gamers that gaming is the “last bastion” of white masculinity. White male gamers particularly if they are unskilled do tend to explode with misogynist, homophobic, and racist fury when they fail at a task. And they fail a lot. Non white/male/straight gamers will often hide their “otherness” in game or learn to deal with overt and unchecked hate particularly as they climb the leader boards.
This is not to say that all white men are bad at gaming or are prone to bigoted outbursts. It also does not mean that all female or BIPOC gamers are perfect. But if its resilience you’re after remember that the Black girl geek has probably overcome considerably more than anyone else.
5. Leadership Skills
If you’re looking for someone who can come in straight away and organize a multinational team with varying skills, schedule them to meet in organized groups with set “builds,” work as a unit for hours on end, and attend team and skill building activities at set times, all the while running a micro-economy then what you’re really looking for is a guild master.
Again, this is not an area where just any gamer will have these skills. But guilds, particularly successful guilds with either trading or raiding capacities are complex organizations requiring entirely transferable leadership skills. Good guild leaders value their members and know how to recognize potential, nurture skill, and reward good work.
Don’t be surprised though if your potential employee/soon to be former guild master pauses before they agree to rededicate their efforts to you. Leadership for these people is a labour of love and while they may be stepping into a new leadership role with new trainees the amount you want them to care and the time you want them to spend for your company going forward is the same as they had for that guild that they’re stepping away from. Once you’ve convinced them though, you will be very pleased with the results.
This might be a surprising one and certainly don’t forgo the interview process, but gamers can be surprisingly professional as a function of gaming. Social games and guild activities require punctuality if you wish to participate in high level and rewarding content. Gamers show up online ready to go with all their add-ons configured and items crafted ready to focus and get down to some … playing.
Gamers know what they need to make themselves more effective at work and play and will go get that thing whether it is a comfy chair or the appropriate attire. And despite the stereotype, many guilds do have basic standards of behaviour and players who violate those standards can be kicked from the guild and sometimes even the game.
Not every gamer is the model of discretion and systemic issues do remain in gaming. But you can generally suss out a problematic gamer during the interview process and the rest of us are just adorable lolcats.